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Black Salvage Perspectives: Why Is BET Still Alive and Kickin'?

The Black Salvage is pleased to bring you more real talk from our regular music contributor L. A. Grant.

They say talk is cheap so you can speak freely but, if it’s not for a reason, then what is it actually good for? The station that was meant to highlight things pertinent to blacks along with educating, uplifting, and motivating “our people” has lost its luster. There was a time when such shows as Teen Summit and B.E.T. News were a staple of our network. Now, you would be hard pressed to find anything resembling communication of thoughts that don’t include money, cars, or something of monetary value.

The quality of programming has changed so drastically that I have noticed, in talking with educated people of color, most find it hard to even view Black Entertainment Television on a daily basis unless they are trying to see the latest videos. Movies like, “Cornbread and Earl”, will most likely never air on B.E.T. again even though the premise behind the situations and problems conveyed are ones that still trouble our community in this day and age. You would think with a name like Black Entertainment Television the want to, the drive to, the desire to illustrate that there is more to the African-American population than what is pushed by the mainstream media would permeate through its broadcasting but this has not been the case.

I am a realist. I understand that as a network, B.E.T. has an obligation to its shareholders to make money which is most likely the reason for the dominance of music videos on their airwaves but, should that take precedence over and come at the expense of your people? Ever since 2001 when the company was bought by Viacom, the same people who own just about every cable and media outlet including MTV, VH1, DreamWorks, and Paramount, the shape decline in quality programming has not gone unnoticed by the black community and it seems that Sunday is the only day not to be corrupted by the changes. The persistent intent to turn the station once held in such high regard into a one solely of entertainment like MTV has made me question who is actually giving the orders. By Viacom’s own admission the sole goal is profit revenue. They, as a company, could care less about how it depicts, demeans, degrades, or cast a not so illuminate light on the citizens it is suppose to represent. Just look at Teen Summit, which had to take private funding from the Keiser Foundation just to be shown even though it was the only show of its kind, a forum for adolescents to discuss issues that pertained specifically to them.

B.E.T. does represent “us” it says so in its name, Black Entertainment Television, and if that is the case then we are nothing more that hooligans (American Gangster), ignorant self-hating blacks (College Hill and Baldwin Hills), all talk and no action (Hip Hop vs. America), and would be artist trying to portray a lifestyle of fame and fortune (the plethora of music video shows). It makes me wonder why we stay so loyal to a station that has no allegiance to we the people. At the end of the day Black Entertainment Television is a reflection of you so, it would behoove you, to be more mindful of what is shown on it than any other outlet that takes interest in viewers like you.

by L. A. Grant

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  1. BET frustrates my sensibilities. The network displayed a bipolar attempt at activism with Hip Hop v. America. I could not take the panelists as seriously as I would have liked because they were on the entity (BET) that provides an enormous platform for the genre of visual culture that they were debating about. As an artist, I despise the fact that African American visual culture has been pigeonholed into such a negative and narrow box. BET is still around because they have a large following of people who are willing to watch themselves being degraded.

  2. tru, tru... i felt the same way watching hip hop vs. america a few weeks ago. there were some good points made, but at the end of the day, it's still a joke to me because it hip hop vs. america meant anything to them at all, they might look into practicing what they preach...

  3. I personally disgarded BET about 7 years ago before I even hit high school. Even back then I realized that watching that type of senseless, shameless and negligent programming might make me a casuality of their marketing scheme. It should be called Black Exploitation Television. I hope that someday TVOne will revitalize the hip-hop community for the television viewers of America. BET has failed a generation of kids who listen to rap and can't distinguish the difference between modern day Blaxploitation and Hip-Hop, music that was meant to tell the TRUE story of our culture.

  4. I hate BET read my post 100 it says it all I can not stand that network it is a stain on the Black Community

  5. nice blog

    hope u don’t mind the drive by, do chk me out one day

    rawdawgbuffalo and if u like what u read, maybe u will come back, even Blog Roll Me

  6. I stopped watching BET when they took Teen Summit off the air. Almost all of their programming reinforces negative stereotypes about African-Americans. It certainly shouldn't be taken as any kind of reflection on Black Community.


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